Chapter 2: A birth worth celebration
Yashwantrao Chavan Medical Hospital is a huge Government aid in the north west zone of Pune, working under the local body. At about 500 meters from the prime entrance of the hospital, stands a magnanimous sculpture at the crossing of roads.
Since the time, I began my duties as a resident there, this sculpture has never failed to grab my attention. An earthly yellowish brown art, open hands cupped together, with a tiny girl resting her face on the palms and tightly embracing them. Under the sculpture are a few quotes on women in devnagari script. Looking at it always makes me believe that maybe this world is a beautiful place for women. That maybe the birth of a girl child is now being celebrated.
The OR(operating room) is on the first floor, right wing of the hospital. Dental surgeries are scheduled on Thursdays and the OR is booked accordingly. Today being the surgical day, I was in the pre-operative room for a dental surgical procedure along with the senior resident.
Few pre-operative test reports were not yet obtained, so we were waiting in the common room outside the OR.
Patients’ relatives are usually advised to wait outside in the waiting room.
But there was one man standing near the pre-op room. A tall guy, slightly on the healthier side, stood anxiously outside the operating room. His hands joined together, maybe praying for the goodwill of the patient inside. Sweat dribbling from his forehead, he was walking briskly up and down the place.
He even enquired the nurse about the patient. Signalling the man to wait for a while, the nurse disappeared inside the room. In the meanwhile, I waited for my patient’s reports, even calling a few times in the laboratory room. Tired, I took a seat next to the patient’s chair. He smiled half-heartedly looking at me, and then turned his face towards the operating room’s direction.
Around 12-13 minutes later, a short, stout nurse came outside, holding a little new born in her hands. Being my first time to witness a newborn just after the delivery, I jumped out of my chair to see the baby.
Small hands and feet,shiny brown hair on the head, eyes still closed, lips pink, the baby was wrapped in the sterile towel. Seeing the nurse arrive with the baby, the man couldn’t hold back his emotions. A few teardrops rolled down his cheeks. The nurse then showed the baby to the man(the father of the child I assumed).
She took the stamp from the drawer and placed it on the baby’s leg. It read FEMALE in capital with today’s date below it. Within a fraction of a second, the man’s expressions changed drastically. Just a few minutes back, he was overwhelmed with joy and now his face saddened at the news of a baby girl.
The disheartened look didn’t go unnoticed even by the nurse.
“Sir,girl or boy, its one and the same”, said the nurse to the father in marathi and took the baby to the natal room. I wondered, if the nurse could understand such a simple thing, why couldn’t the man.
I remembered my uncle telling me once- when I was born dad had opened a champagne bottle to celebrate my birth. How lucky I was, I thought!
Hopelessly,I walked out of the common room.
On the same day, in the evening, sitting in the canteen I was drinking my cup of extra strong coffee. The legends of Lakshmi Prasad by Twinkle Khanna in my hand, a compilation of short stories with the title of the book being the first one. It was about a girl named Lakshmi, living in a small village in India who came up with an idea of planting 10 saplings at the birth of every girl in that village. So that when the girl grows up, the saplings grow with her and they are her belongings. The fruits and flowers borne on the trees will help the girl sustain her living. This idea had tackled with the dowry problems in the village. The villagers thereafter never worried when a girl was born.
How ironic it was. When on one side the birth of a girl had saddened a father, on the other side girls like Lakshmi were a pride to a distant village.
I wish we could have more such Lakshmi Prasads in reality…..